2009

Daemonyx: Curse of the Daimon is an album of original instrumental music composed, performed, recorded, and produced by Matt Cardin. In addition to his authorial work, Matt is a longtime pianist and keyboardist with classical training, and this album, produced between 2005 and 2008, is the fruit of more than thirty years of musicianship with pianos, keyboards, and multitrack recording equipment. With its instrumental melding of genres and themes — rock, metal, electronica, New Age, and orchestral motifs fused in an exploration of thought realms of horror, sadness, beauty, and spirituality — it crosses paths at multiple points with his work as an author of horror fiction and nonfiction. The overriding theme is the sense of being dominated by a psychic, spiritual, or supernatural force that is both within oneself and beyond oneself, both subjective and objective, a daemon muse.

The album can be purchased through various venues (CD Baby, iTunes, and more). The complete set of tracks can also be listened to here:

  1. The Gates of Deep Darkness
  2. Daimonica
  3. The Face of the Deep (1)
  4. Blood and Milk, movement 1
  5. Blood and Milk, movement 2
  6. Blood and Milk, movement 3
  7. Blood and Milk, movement 4
  8. The Dreamlands
  9. The Streets of Vastarien
  10. Road to Olduvai
  11. Dystopian Dreams
  12. My Own Death Poems
  13. The Face of the Deep (2)

Total time: 47:26

PRAISE

“Like a soundtrack to a fever dream, the music of Daemonyx plumbs an ever-changing world of mystery, mood, and melodic apparitions. Listen with the lights out and your imagination on.”

— Brian Hodge

“Daemonyx’s compositions conjure up images of eerie strangeness and awesomely alien worlds that nothing can evoke better than music.

— Ramsey Campbell

“There are many haunting and beautiful compositions that complement or completely make horror films — you know the ones — as well as appeal to listeners who are sensitive to the mystery and dread of life. In its debut album ‘Curse of the Daimon,’ Daemonyx has offered us thirteen works of such quality.”

— Thomas Ligotti

“The overall ambience of the music reminds me a little of the electronica of Klaus Schulze. There’s a similar powerful evocation of vast and terrifying soundscapes. In the song ‘Daimonica,’ I very much like the way the haunting and oppressive music blends with the grim signal motif, ‘Is there someone inside you.’ In ‘The Gates of Deep Darkness,’ the ominous martial nature of the music provides a real chill, as of some impending apocalypse.”

– Mark Samuels

“Intricate, haunting and complex pieces of music, richly creative and inspiring.”

– Tim Lebbon

INFLUENCES

Musical influences: Goblin, Vangelis, Dead Can Dance, Hearts of Space (radio program), Echoes (radio program), Blue Öyster Cult, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Windham Hill, Mannheim Steamroller, Basil Poledouris, Elliot Goldenthal, Bernard Hermann, Current93, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Tan Dun, Shigeru Umebayashi, Queensrÿche, Fate’s Warning, Skinny Puppy, Claudio Gizzi, John Harrison, Pink Floyd, Negativland

The Movies (list of movies that provided the sound samples heard on the album): Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Citizen Kane, The Exorcist, Frailty, Zardoz, Network, Mr. Frost, The Devil Rides Out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Langoliers, Day of the Dead (1985), My Dinner with Andre

SONG NOTES

“The Gates of Deep Darkness” – The line “There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand” comes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where it is spoken by Captain Walton, the explorer who encounters Victor Frankenstein during an arctic expedition. But the actual sound clip in the song comes from the 1994 movie Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where the words are spoken not by Walton but by the character of Victor himself. In both cases, the line still works perfectly to express the daimonic “message” of Curse of the Daimon.

“Daimonica” – When I first started improvising on a Yamaha CVP-309 digital piano and came up with the basic synth motif that forms the backbone of this song, I was quite consciously influenced by some of Goblin’s soundtrack music, especially the main theme from Dario Argento’s Tenebrae, which was playing in the back of my head at the time. The same theme served as my point of departure for “Daimonica’s” tech-sounding drum track.

“The Face of the Deep (1)” – The whispered words at the start are from the Book of Genesis. The music itself may represent something having to do with the primal “deep” of the Hebrew scriptures, the uncreated chaos that existed before Yahweh imposed order on it with his “Let there be” pronouncements.

In the beginning . . .  darkness covered the face of the deep.

— Genesis 1:1, 2

“Blood and Milk” – All four movements were originally composed to accompany a recorded reading of the short horror story “Warm Milk” by Canadian author Barry Wood.The oboe melody for the first movement was created by transferring the letters in the title “Warm Milk” to a telephone keypad and then transferring the resulting numbers to the notes on a piano keyboard.

“The Dreamlands” – The intended emotion here is the mixture of wonder and horror that characterizes the setting of Lovecraft’s dreamland stories (and also Dunsany’s stories and many of Clark Ashton Smith’s).

The song is divided into two sections. The guiding emotion of the first is the aching sehnsucht encapsulated in the opening lines of one of HPL’s most sprawling and evocative dreamland stories:

Mystery hung about [the dream city] as clouds about a fabulous unvisited mountain; and as Carter stood breathless and expectant on that balustraded parapet there swept up to him the poignancy and suspense of almost-vanished memory, the pain of lost things, and the maddening need to place again what once had an awesome and momentous place.

— H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

The second part switches to an emotional mode conveyed in another of Lovecraft’s stories, in a scene where one character hears another, a cryptically learned man, suffer the ultimate destruction atop a rocky mountain because of his hubris in trying to see the face of “earth’s gods”:

And now Atal, slipping dizzily up over inconceivable steeps, heard in the dark a loathsome laughing, mixed with such a cry as no man else ever heard save in the Phlegethon of unrelatable nightmares; a cry wherein reverberated the horror and anguish of a haunted lifetime packed into one atrocious moment: “The other gods! The other gods! The gods of the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth! . . . Look away . . . Go back . . . Do not see! Do not see! The vengeance of the infinite abysses . . . That cursed, that damnable pit . . . Merciful gods of earth, I am falling into the sky!”

— H. P. Lovecraft, “The Other Gods”

“The Streets of Vastarien” – This is a musical representation of one of Victor Keirion’s oneiric journeys through the twisting streets of the dream city Vastarien in Thomas Ligotti’s short story of that name.

[H]is gaze now roamed the streets of this dream. He scanned the altitudes beyond the high sloping roofs: there the stars seemed to be no more than silvery cinders which showered up from the mouths of great chimneys and clung to something dark and dense looming above, something that closed in upon each black horizon. It appeared to him that certain high towers nearly breached this sagging blackness, stretching themselves nightward to attain the farthest possible remove from the world below. And toward the peak of one of the highest towers he spied vague silhouettes that moved hectically in a bright window, twisting and leaning upon the glass like shadow-puppets in the fever of some mad dispute.

— Thomas Ligotti, “Vastarien”

“Road to Olduvai” – The title comes from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, but more directly from systems engineer Richard Duncan’s Olduvai Theory, which posits that peak oil will lead to a permanent energy blackout and the annihilation of industrial civilization during the 21st century, resulting in a massive human die-off and the return of stone age living conditions for the drastically culled population that remains. The listener may have to strain to find any of this in the music itself. But the attentive listener will hear the ancient, gloomy “Dies Irae” theme of divine wrath and cosmic destruction enter briefly into the dense instrumental melange during the final three or four minutes.

“Dystopian Dreams” – This song is a quirky and rhythmic audio palette of loosely connected ideas leading to a single conclusion: The new Dark Age isn’t a future event. We’re living in it now.

“My Own Death Poems” – This one represents a detailed outworking of a theme and beat that began to play in my head almost immediately after I began reading Thomas Ligotti’s Death Poems back in 2004. The book ends with a section of blank pages titled “My Own Death Poems,” where the reader is presumably intended to record thoughts about the meaning and inevitability of everyone’s ultimate demise, including his or her own. This song is my response.

“The Face of the Deep (2)” – The album’s overarching and supervening themes return and strive for coherence and closure. The infinite ocean of uncreation laps at the far edge of the cosmos.

Is there someone inside you?

— Dialogue from a key point in The Exorcist

I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life.

— Dialogue from a key point in Citizen Kane